• Mary Knox Miller

Going Gray For My Girls



In the fog of early parenthood, I came across articles written by mothers embracing stretch marks and bathing suits.


Every wrinkle, pudge, or scar had become an anthem of pride, a testament to survival, an embodiment of cherished memories made possible by bringing humans into this world.


I got it… kind of.


I wanted to believe them and to embrace my morphed body.


But sheer exhaustion couldn’t let me see past immediate needs. You know, like how I was going to clothe, bathe and feed three children under three. #twins #surprise


Seven years and one pandemic later, I get it. Oh, do I get it.


I’m not brazen with bathing suits (I’ll occasionally squeeze into for an underwater tea party), and I can (for now) cover the spider veins.


But what I choose not to cover, not to mask is my gray hair.


And in the last year, it’s proliferated.


It’s like a few friends each invited five friends, who then invited ten more friends, and they’ve all set up camp above my forehead.

I might as well walk around with a neon flashing sign that says, “Look!”


But that’s not necessary. My seven-year-old daughters remind me every few days that the grays are multiplying.


But today, instead of trying to change the subject, I gleefully told them, “Yes, that’s where I hold all my wisdom.”


They froze.


I smiled.


“It’s where all of my experiences, all of my knowledge is kept,” I said.


Wheels started turning.


“Does that mean everyone with has gray hair is wise?” one daughter asked.


“Is that why Papa has gray in his beard?” the other chimed in.


“Yes,” I replied. “And it’s why lots of other people have gray hair. They’re very special because you can only get gray hair after you’ve lived through a lot.”


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Disclaimer


It took a loooong time to get here. I’ve dyed my hair three times. I’m still shaky in this #truth. My daughters’ comments used to stew in my mind, churning over and over. Hours later, I’d scroll through social media and it was like a subconscious antenna sought images of ‘beautiful’ women with perfectly colored hair.


I still see them.


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My daughters keep commenting on the grays, but now in the same breath they say, “you have so much wisdom!”


I can’t break down Western standards of beauty all by my lonesome. But I can embody a positive message of aging so my daughters and nieces admire gray hair, call it out as beautiful, and #embracethegray when it’s their turn.


These gray hairs are my anthem of pride for living a life with courage, conviction and humility.


Those gray hairs are a testament to survival when life threw curveballs and I kept going, even when I had no idea what I was doing.


And these over here embody cherished memories made possible by bringing three humans into this world.


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Wait - why is it so hard to publish this article?

If I do, will friends and family stop the double-takes and comments about how gray I’ve turned?

If I do, will feminists berate me if I dye my hair in the future?

If I don’t, what does that say about owning my truth?

If I don’t, what message does that send to my children?


Dammit - I’m going for it.


#goinggrayformygirls



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